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House Dems hit by super PAC/nonprofit team

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Conservative nonprofit American Action Network and its sister super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, have launched a multi-million campaign targeting top congressional races.

The groups, which were both founded by former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and ex-Nixon aide Fred Malek, are spending more than $3 million on ads designed to aid Republicans, with $1.6 million of that coming from the American Action Network, according to a press releasefrom the group.

With just seven weeks until Election Day, the spending comes as part of an advertising barrage on down-ticket races, where groups can often get more bang for their buck. Conservative super PACs American Crossroadsand YG Action Fund have also announced plans to target House races in hopes of helping the GOP maintain the majority.

The four ads released by American Action Network Monday targeted races in Minnesota, Illinois and California:

American Action Network is organized under section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code, meaning its primary purpose is the promotion of “social welfare,” not electoral politics. It has frequently been criticized by Democratic politicians and campaign finance reformers for being too focused on election-related advertising.

As a nonprofit, American Action Network is not required to publicly disclose its donors. Some donors, however, have been revealed.

For instance, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) gave American Action Network $4.5 million in 2010, as the Center for Public Integrity previously noted. Additionally, the Center for Responsive Politics found that Crossroads GPS, the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Wellspring Committee and the American Natural Gas Alliance have also contributed to the group.

American Action Network has reported making $1.6 million in independent expenditures so far this election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to Politico, it is committed to spending at least $10 million on House races, which are especially vulnerable to outside spending.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Leadership Fund released “Sutton Works for Pelosi,” which opposes Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio. Sutton is running against Republican Rep. Jim Renacci in Ohio’s redrawn 16th District. The ad cost $558,000, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission, as the Center for Public Integrityreported Monday.

The Congressional Leadership Fund is backed by super donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Bob Perry. The super PAC’s only reported expenditure so far is the anti-Sutton ad.

In other outside spending news:

For up-to-date news on outside money in the election, follow our Source2012 Tumblr and the hashtag #Source2012 on Twitter.

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